§ 9. Mr. Awbery
asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation if he is aware that a large amount of secondhand shipping is being sold to nations that refuse to recognise international regulations and the Convention on Safety of Life at Sea laid down by the International Labour Organisation; that these vessels will be competing with our own Merchant Navy, which conforms to stringent regulations; and what steps he proposes to take to remedy this matter.
§ Mr. Molson
I am aware that a substantial tonnage of United Kingdom secondhand shipping has been sold to countries that have not yet accepted the International Convention for the Safety 341 of Life at Sea, 1948, which I take it the hon. Member has in mind. We believe that of these, the countries which have the largest fleets will accept the Convention before long. To prevent the sale of secondhand tonnage to those countries which have not so far accepted the Convention would merely deprive the British shipping industry of much needed funds for replacement, without, in my opinion, expediting their acceptance of the Convention.
§ Mr. Awbery
Is the Minister aware that since 1939 Panama has jumped from ninth to fourth on the list of maritime nations, having increased her tonnage by 500 per cent., while this country has increased her tonnage by only 15 per cent.? Is he also aware that Panama is refusing to carry out the recommendations of the I.L.O.? Cannot the hon. Gentleman do something to boycott the sale of shipping to Panama until the Regulations are adopted by that country?
§ Mr. Molson
The hon. Member asked me in his Question about Conventions on the Safety of Life at Sea. The only such Convention to which Panama has not conformed is that of 1948. This year, by executive decree, the President of Panama required Panamanian ships to put that Convention into operation. As to the Conventions of the International Labour Office, we are not guided in our decisions about giving permission for the sale of ships by the question of whether or not a country applies or has ratified those agreements.